GETTING THE SHOT: Jason Flory of Barrigada and his wife Jennifer Flory, not pictured, got their vaccine shotS at the Barrigada Mayor's office on Thursday. Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services officials continue to urge more people to become fully vaccinated or to get their booster shots amid concerns over the omicron variant. Kevin Milan/The Guam Daily Post

HAGÅTÑA, 06 DECEMBER 2021 (THE GUAM DAILY POST) — Guam’s Covid-19 community and travel protocols remain unchanged over the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, which appears to be making more young children sick compared to the previous variants, based on initial information, Department of Public Health and Social Services officials said.

The United States last Wednesday confirmed its first Omicron case in a passenger who arrived in California on 22 November.

Guam has no capacity to determine the different variants already on the island.

On Monday last week, Guam sent 73 new specimens to the U.S Centres for Disease Control and Prevention for genome sequencing to identify the variants already present on the island, just weeks after the island emerged from a surge caused by the highly virulent delta variant.

Chief public health officer Chima Mbakwem spoke Thursday during a DPHSS Covid-19 briefing about the new batch of specimens sent to the CDC. The department still was waiting for the results of the genome sequencing on the samples it sent to the CDC in October, he said.

Studies and testing on the Omicron variant are ongoing, according to Dr Robert Leon Guerrero, interim chief medical officer for DPHSS, and DPHSS territorial epidemiologist Ann Pobutsky.

But Leon Guerrero and Pobutsky said there’s cause for concern about the new variant, including it being highly transmissible.

“There’s still a lot of studying ongoing but there are some hints out in South Africa anyway. There’s increased risk of hospitalisations in children with this new variant,” Leon Guerrero said. “Whether that pans out to Europe or whether it pans out to the U.S and/or Guam, we don’t know yet, but it is concerning that it seems to be making more children hospitalised, so more sick than the previous variants.”

This was based on preliminary information about a high number of hospital admissions of infants under 2 years old from an area in South Africa hit by the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2.

To date, only children five years and older can be vaccinated against the virus that causes Covid-19.

The best Guam residents can do at this point to protect themselves is to continue to wear masks, wash their hands properly, watch their distance, stay home when sick, and get fully vaccinated and receive booster shots, Leon Guerrero and other DPHSS officials said…. PACNEWS

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